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Jussie Smollett scored a sizable win in his ongoing case stemming from an alleged hate crime in 2019.
Court documents obtained by Fox News on Friday heard a judge say he would not remove one of Smollett’s lawyers from the matter despite the fact he believes the attorney did, in fact, speak with brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, the two men the actor allegedly hired to help him carry out a staged racist and homophobic attack.
The Osundairos came forward soon after the purported incident and told police that the actor had paid them $3,500 to jump him on a Chicago street in an effort to raise his profile because he was unhappy with his role on “Empire.”
In the ruling, Cook County Judge James Linn simply said that he would bar a member of Smollett’s legal counsel, attorney Nenye Uche, from questioning the brothers should the actor’s case go to trial – pressing that another member of the defense team would have to be the one to examine the acting pair if they were to take the stand.
“The totality of the evidence shows clearly and convincingly that at different points, Mr. Uche talked to both brothers and their mother,” Linn wrote in the declaration.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb argued that the alleged conversations between Uche and the brothers in 2019, shortly after Smollett said he was a victim of a hate crime, created a conflict of interest. However, Linn found that it was in the court’s interest to allow Smollett to retain his chosen lawyer “when his liberty is at stake,” even if the judge found Webb’s concerns to be legitimate.
Meanwhile, an attorney for the brothers, Gloria Rodriguez, issued a statement following the judge’s ruling and said it is “consistent with the evidence presented by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.”
“Attorney Uche was found by Judge James Linn to have had confidential attorney-client communications with the Osundairo family,” the memorandum obtained by Fox News reads. “Judge Linn also and found my clients, Ola and Bola Osundairo, entirely credible.”
“The relief granted by the court today will accomplish protecting those communications by barring Attorney Uche from cross-examining them when they take the stand.”
Former ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a January 2019 hate crime in Chicago. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
“The Osundairo family is pleased with the result and Ola and Bola Osundairo look forward to testifying at trial,” the note concludes.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, told police at the time of the alleged attack that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019. He said they made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing, and that at least one of his attackers was a White man who told him he was in “MAGA country,” a reference to former President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
The actor has said several times that Abel and Ola are not telling the truth. He previously sought to get the second wave of charges thrown out based on their testimony.
The charges over the January 2019 incident were initially dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office only to be renewed after a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment accusing him of lying.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the new indictment. The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for Aug. 2.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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